By Brandon Speck / Monroe Journal
Channing Ward isn’t worried about any of the nine Division I offers he has on the table. Channing Ward isn’t ready to let on which Southeastern Conference school of the eight that have offered him he likes best.
He is ready to tell you where he plans to be during the first weekend of December 2011 though:
Ward is the 2010 Daily Journal Defensive Player of the Year, is possibly the state’s top 2012 senior recruit and has a host of school’s vying for his attention.
“It means a lot,” Ward said of the honor. “There are a lot of good players in this area. It means a whole lot.”
But Ward’s focus is obviously not on himself. All he wants to talk about is getting the Bulldogs back to the Class 3A state championship for a third straight year … and winning it.
“I just want a ring. That’s what I’m waiting for,” said the 6-foot-4, 232-pounder, who plays on the defensive line and at tight end.
Ward had 132 tackles – 25 for loss with 16 sacks – in 2010, a season Aberdeen ended at 14-2 with a 10-8 loss in the 3A finals against Forest.
The Bulldogs as a unit allowed only 7.6 points per game.
Ward was a major part of that, though his road to the tackles often meant battling though at least two blockers.
“It’s always facing double teams, sometimes facing triple teams,” said Ward, who has SEC offers from LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn. “Every time I get past a tackle, I’ve got a running back waiting on me. It’s pretty hard sometimes.”
Aberdeen even used the junior’s sub-4.5 speed on offense this season, putting him at tight end where he scored six times, including an 80-yarder.
Fourth-year Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan said Ward’s ability goes beyond what he can do by himself.
“Each week, everybody is always aware of where he is on defense,” Duncan said. “At tight end, where he goes, there’s a convoy. What actually it does, is it opens up things for other players, him drawing all of the attention. Like I tell him, ‘You’ve got to overcome. I don’t care if they send three to block you, you’ve got to make plays for us’ and he’s been able to do that.”
Ward, whose non-SEC offer is from Memphis, wears two metal knee braces to protect his knees from illegal blocks that often occur. He says the bulky protection gear doesn’t hinder him on the field.
He’s the one doing all the hindering.
Ward even moved to safety against Wing-T Belmont in the state quarterfinals in November, a spot where Belmont coach Kerry Moody said Ward looked right at home.
“We were a little surprised by Channing Ward at safety,” Moody said after the game. “He presented problems for us by running the field and finding the football.”
Ward sat on the field after the Dec. 4 loss at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and closed his interview with reporters a few minutes later with three words before heading into the locker room.
“We’ll be back,” he said.